One play could have summed up the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. On the play, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel was separated from the ball short of the fist down marker, and what happened next is par for the course. With Steelers seemingly surrounding the ball, Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson recovered it, with enough yardage to pick up a first down. Yes, the Steelers watched another game slip away from them, falling to the Vikings 34-27.
The Steelers’ defense had no answers for Adrian Peterson, Greg Jennings or Simpson, with Jennings and Peterson accounting for two touchdowns apiece in the victory. Statistically, the Steelers defense was overmatched, allowing Peterson run for 140 yards on 23 carries, Jennings to catch three balls for 92 yards and Simpson to pull in seven balls for a game-high 124 yards receiving.
Cassel was solid and did a great job protecting the ball finishing 16-of-25 for 248 yards and the two touchdowns. More importantly, he did enough to keep the Steelers defense honest all afternoon. However, while the Vikings are enjoying the victory, the lack of tacking by the Steelers, which led directly to scores, is the real story for Steelers fans as the team enters the bye week.
For most of the season, the defense has received a pass because of the inept offense, but that changed today. While the offense still had some struggles, especially along the offensive line where Mike Adams played one his worst games as a pro, they looked much better than in previous weeks.
Running back Le’Veon Bell made his debut and added enough to the offense to allow quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to use play action. Sure, his numbers were not as good as Peterson’s was, but the rookie from Michigan State had a solid afternoon, rushing 16 times for 57 yards and two touchdowns while adding four receptions for 27 yards. His efforts are even more impressive considering this was his first extensive playing time after missing the majority of preseason and the early part of 2013 with a foot injury.
Roethlisberger again put up decent numbers, finishing 36-of-51 for 383 yards, one touchdown and one interception. However, the veteran quarterback made two critical turnovers, including one late in the game at the Vikings’ six-yard line, which ended the game. For Big Ben, this continues a terrible streak of ineptitude, which like the defenses’ inability to create turnovers, crosses multiple seasons.
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